Thursdays Thoughts

What is “Fast”…?

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According to the Oxford dictionary, fast is defined as “moving or capable of moving at high speed.”  But what does being fast as a runner really mean? How fast is running fast?  It took me 27 minutes to race 5k the other week, my non-running friends called it “fast” and congratulated me.  My other friend ran the 5k in 18 minutes, I called it “fast” and congratulated him.  But the winner of the race, ran it in 16 minutes.  That too, is “fast.”


When I first started running at small races when I was 16, I ran a 5k race in 24 minutes and was considered “fast” as I placed in my age group/gender. The year after, I attended larger races with 1000 instead of 400 runners.  This time, I was seconds slower than the year before but I didn’t place. I was still near the “top” of my age and gender group but the other girls were faster. Then, as the years went by, I started entering races with thousands of runners and since then, I haven’t placed.  I trained consistently but I was still not as fast as other girls in my age group. But my friends continued to support me and congratulate me for being “fast” at races.

As I’ve grown, I started keeping track of winners of races and following elite runners on twitter and their blogs. Then when those elite and sub-elite runners post about their runs and I see the non-nonchalant way they state that they just ran a sub-15 5k or how it just took them 45 minutes to do an easy 10k training run, it makes me reconsider what “fast” really means.  I am in awe because I really can’t imagine myself running as “fast” as they did.  So does that make me slow?  Maybe to those elite runners, those times are just regular times that they crank out regularly as they train whereas I’d probably kill myself trying to go at that speed. Sometimes you just can’t help but compare your time to the elites and it may bum you out or you can use it as motivation to work harder.  I always have to tell myself that I’m running for myself. The times I achieve are for myself. There’s always going to be someone faster than me to compare myself to but at the end of the day, I’m running for myself. My time might not be considered as “fast” for someone else, it’s a great time for me. It’s the time I’ve trained hard for and dammit, I’m going to be proud of it!

What do you consider as “fast?”  Do you find that you compare yourself to others a lot?  How do you remedy that?

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18 thoughts on “What is “Fast”…?

  1. First, I think you’re fabulous!!! I don’t compare my paces/times to anyone else because I’m my own unique person with my own unique body and training plan! I shoot to PR!! That makes me happy!!

  2. I had a Forrest Gump moment and immediately thought “Fast is as fast does.” Simply put, I am much faster than I was 5 years ago. But I don’t win races. Kristin put it perfectly. We are all unique and special. BTW I think you are fast 🙂

    • Awww thanks! <3 you're right, we're all unique and in the end as long as we're enjoying ourselves, that's all that matters! Hopefully like you, I'll be faster in 5 years!

      I haven't watched forest grump before 🙁 people keep telling me to but I keep putting it off!

  3. Ugh I think this is one of the hardest running questions! I never feel fast, especially since I read so many blogs about runners who run way faster than me. But some people consider me fast if they don’t run or if they’re slower than me (which most people aren’t). The concept of “fast” is the weirdest thing ever! Maybe we should all start considering ourselves fast to feel better?

    • I knowwwww! When people who don’t run go Oh you’re so fast! I have no idea what to say cause I don’t want to give them the impression that I’m super speedy when I’m not but I don’t want to put my efforts/myself down either!

  4. Excellent post! I’m new to your blog but in going to add it to my blog roll! 🙂 I find myself thinking similarly about fast runners. I’m always proud when I do my best, but then there’s always going to be someone who is faster. It’s hard not to compare sometimes. 🙂

    • Thanks!! I found your blog earlier today (and I think I commented but it might have failed when I tried to connect G+). I agree, there’s always going to be someone faster and it’s hard to not compare! I’m sure there’s someone thinking the exact same thing regarding us!

  5. I definitely know I compare myself to other runners too much! I’m off and on down about not being able to be run 9-minute miles outdoors like I used to before having my baby.
    But yeah, I consider a 5k under 30 fast, but in 16-minutes…on some other type of fitness level I’m probably never going to attempt to achieve, lol.

    • I remember in highschool when all the girls were around 17-18 minutes and I was all well I thought sub 30 was fast… then I reached university and girls are banging out 15-17 minutes and I was in complete awe. I probably won’t ever be that fast either but hey, we are faster than half the population that doesn’t run 😉

  6. Great topic, Carmy. Everyone has a person that they look at and say “I wish I was as fast as X”. Unless you’re Meb or someone. Maybe even then you do? Anyways. What is fast? We may not think it, when comparing ourselves to our X, our person we wish we could run like, but we are also someone else’s X. Fast is a floating point that differs for every person. Everything is fast, compared to something slower.

    Sorry, rant coming.

    People who feel the need to belittle others for not being “real runners” because they don’t run as fast as they do, need to check themselves. Oh you run a 1:23 half so you think you’re entitled to call a 2:00 halfer names? Well buddy, you’re no more a real runner than they are, you’re just more of a real dickhead.

    Ok i should stop here.

    End rant.

  7. Nice one Carmy, there is a lack of definition with this jargon. It needs to be defined 😉

    Here’s an attempt…There are 2 types of fast:
    – Relative fast
    – Numbers fast

    Relative fast is in relation to YOU. That is, anyone who’s say more than 1 min/mile faster in a 5k or 5 mins/mile faster in a half or full marathon. I guess?

    Then there’s numbers fast, as in, “oh I can never achieve anywhere near that time in my life, even if everything aligned and I bought David Hasselhoff’s new training book and jumped on the latest birdseed diet bandwagon. I can never get that time, ever.” That is numbers fast

    🙂

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